bookrev: Dragons of the Dwarven Depths by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Dragons of the Dwarven DepthsThe Lost Chronicles Volume 1

3 stars: A nice read, but needs intro summary and a couple of plot problems fixed

Even though I have read many of R.A. Salvatore’s novels (the other Wizards of the Coast series), I have never read on of the DragonLance series. But I received an ARC of Dragons of the Highlord Skies, the 2nd Volume in this series and attempted to just read the Lost Chronicles series, starting with Dragons of the Dwarven Depths. To get background on the Companions in this series, I used two sources: Wikipedia and the Introduction that was included at the beginning of Dragons of the Highlord Skies.

Overall I enjoyed the story, the characters and the pacing of the novel; but there were three critiques that I have, most notably the lack of a summary or intro in the beginning to bring DragonLance neophytes like myself up to speed.

The Lost Chronicles are meant to plug the gaps of the original Chronicles series. This first volume chronicles the story from after the revolt at Pax Tharkas led by Tanis and his friends through to the finding of the Hammer of Kharas, said to be able to forge DragonLances.

This is one of my issues with this first novel: it starts right in the middle of a “story”; there is no introduction or background provided (I read the paperback, maybe it is in the hardback?) as there is in the introduction provided by the ARC. This brief intro would have been enough and its absence in the first volume means readers new to the series (like yours truly) have to do a little outside research to understand what is happening.

In the prologue, we learn that the Dragon Highlord Verminaard was slain in the slave revolt of Pax Tharkas (killed by two of the Companions) and that an aurak draconian has a plan to masquerade as the Dragon Highlord. Tanis and the Companions lead the slaves into a valley, where some believe they can stay and some believe they must push on. Raistlin wants to go to the haunted fortress called Skullcap, and Tanis wants to find the dwarven kingdon of Thorbardin, closed off and hidden for 300 years after a war with Flint’s dwarven kin (dwarf against dwarf).

The Companions split into three groups, with Raistlin, his brother Caramon and Sturm Brightblade the knight going to the fortress in search of the “key” to Thorbardin; Tanis and Flint go looking for the lost entrance to Thorbardin; and Riverwind and Goldmoon stay with the freed slaves. The freed slaves are set upon by dragons and need to escape from the valley.

My second issue stems from the imbalance in the storyline between these three groups. While the two groups (Tanis’ and Raistlin’s) that eventually meet up at Thorbardin are followed closely, the group guarding/sheparding the freed slaves is left hanging.

Finally, there are some minor plot/logic problems; on page 203, Tasselhoff gives Tika his enchanted knife, Rabbitslayer; but, on page 418, Tasselhoff pulls out Rabbitslayer to sharpen it, even though he has not seen Tika or anyone from the group guarding the freed slaves who could give him his knife back.

Now that I understand a little about the characters, their interaction and the plot, I’ll push forward and read the ARC of Dragons of the Highlord Skies.

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5 Responses

  1. admin says:

    Now reading the 2nd book in this series, Dragons of the Highlord Skies, in the Author’s Note in the back it explains that Tasselhoff’s Rabbitslayer is an enchanted blade that always returns to his owner….I have not read the earlier books to know whether this is true, seems quite convenient!

  2. Jen says:

    Hmm. Actually canít say that I agree with you about intros to series. I like the idea that they are written midstream for those of us who read them. I donít believe this is a title meant to be picked up in the middle like that. I would recommend reading Chronicles first since that trilogy is really the best to the series. Thatís why itís a filling the gaps kinda tale. Still though, glad to hear you enjoyed it.
    I noticed the Rabbitslayer issue as well and am glad to see in the comment above that it gets resolved. :) Iím not sure if that ever came up in the earlier books either. Iíve forgottenÖ

  3. Joe says:

    Tas’s knife Rabbitslayer is enchanted and does always return to its owner. There are several Dragonlance source books that talk of this. Margret Weis was even asked about that and confirmed it. As for the book itself, I don’t really feel its meant to be read as your first book in the Dragonlance series. You should at least read Dragon of Autumn Twilight first. This book picks up later in the same night that Autumn Twilight leaves off. You would have a much better understanding then.

  4. larry says:

    Joe, after reading the second in this series (Dragons of the Highlord Skies, review posted on this site as well) I quite agree with you. Just the backstory in the prologue of that novel increased my enjoyment of it.

  1. July 21, 2007

    […] fantasy novel; as my friend Jen commented on my review of the first volume of the Lost Chronicles, Dragons of the Dwarven Depths, it helps fill in a lot of background if you have read others in this long DragonLance series. In […]

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